Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Death Valley Super Bloom

Post by Loretta

We made a spontaneous decision to take a quick trip to Death Valley National Park when we learned of the Super Bloom.  A Super Bloom only happens about once a decade, and due to the abundance of rain this past fall and winter, this was the year!  The last Super Bloom was in 2005.

We threw the tent and camping essentials into the car and headed 400 miles northwest toward Death Valley.  

On the Road toward Death Valley

Now, normally, we would not make a trip this long from our base camp, but due to being totally bored with Yuma, and the opportunity to see the once-in-a-lifetime (for us) Super Bloom, we ventured farther from the Rambler than usual.

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the lower forty-eight and boasts of the lowest land elevation at 282 feet below sea level, and the record high temperature of 134 degrees. This was recorded in 1913 and still holds the record of highest temperature on earth! Death Valley is also the driest location in North America receiving less than 2 inches of rain per year.

Henry at Lowest Point in North America
Badwater Basin -282'

Upon arrival, we checked with the Visitor Center and found one campground full and the other one nearby was like a parking lot. Not our idea of a great tent camping experience.  We decided to go just outside the park where we saw a few other campers on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) land.  And there, we found a wonderful campsite - for FREE!  We were somewhat secluded, had a fantastic view of the surrounding mountains, and allowed a campfire.  Perfect.

View from our BLM Campsite

Tent Camping on BLM Land

Now - on to the flowers!

The mostly rocky desert was covered with fields of golden flowers as far as you could see. 

Desert Blooms

Fields of Gold

Death Valley Super Bloom

These were the majority of flowers readily seen.  But when you get out of your car and walk among the flowers, you begin to spot more and more variety.  There were purples, pinks, and whites intermixed with the dominant yellows. There were miles and miles of flowers and the desert had come alive! 

Notchleaf Phacelia

Gravel Ghost, Tobacco Weed, or Parachute Plant
are Common Names for this Flower

Desert Primrose

Desert Five-Spot

Desert Marigold

Sand Verbena

The only wildlife we saw was one Roadrunner at the Visitor Center.  He had just caught his lunch. And one Desert Iguana.  

It's What's for Lunch

Desert Iguana

One area of the park, Twenty Mule Team Canyon, was otherworldly, with huge mounds of solid rock with no vegetation at all.  It looked like another planet, with mound after mound of multi colored rock formations.

Twenty Mule Team Canyon

Another interesting historical fact is that Borax was mined here.  Ever heard of Twenty-Mule-Team Borax?  Well, this is where it all started back in the 1800’s, and remnants of the processing facilities are still here.

Twenty-Mule Team Borax Wagons

We stayed three days and nights and only saw a fraction of the park. One of the roads was closed due to flood damage. Crazy, huh? Driest spot in North America but a road is closed because of FLOOD damage. So, this is another park we would love to revisit in the future.  But not in July.

Closed due to Flooding?!?

Before heading back to Yuma, we made a quick detour to the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead.  We did not take time to do the tour of the dam, just basically a drive-by so Henry could say he saw it.  

Hoover Dam

We were thrilled to be able to experience the Super Bloom and hope you guys enjoyed catching a glimpse through the Yahoo Ramblers viewpoint.